Italian Greyhounds have some things in common with cats; they are both elegant, graceful, and love warm spots.
If you’re considering keeping an Italian Greyhound and a cat in the same household, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Do Italian Greyhounds get along with cats? Sometimes. Some Italian Greyhounds play very well with cats. Other Italian Greyhounds experience strong prey drive towards cats and are not trustworthy with them. Your Italian Greyhound may be great with cats, have situational prey drive, or always have aggression towards cats.
If you’re thinking about introducing an Italian Greyhound and a cat, you should know that it can certainly be done, but you also need to be careful.
Many Italian Greyhounds Experience Prey Drive
Prey drive is a dog’s instinct to chase, catch, and kill other animals that they perceive to be prey. A dog who is experiencing prey drive may have any of these instincts in any combination.
For instance, your Italian Greyhound may want to chase a cat but will immediately leave it alone as soon as they catch up to it.
Other Italian Greyhounds may feel the desire to catch cats or even kill a cat even if the cat doesn’t run away.
Italian Greyhounds have some level of prey drive like all sighthounds.
Italian Greyhounds have been bred to be companions, not hunting dogs, for some time, so they may be less likely to experience strong prey drive than some other sighthounds.
Prey drive varies dramatically between individuals.
Are Cats Prey?
Even if a given Italian Greyhound has a strong prey drive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will think of a cat as prey.
Many cats are as big or even bigger than an Italian Greyhound. This may cause the dog to be less likely to think about the cat as a prey animal.
Even an Italian Greyhound who will do anything to chase a squirrel or some other small rodent may not care at all about cats or desire to have strong social relationships with them.
Situational Prey Drive
Many dogs don’t express prey drive equally at all times.
Many dogs may peacefully live with a cat indoors, but if they find themselves outside with a cat, they may be more likely to chase it.
Other dogs only chase cats that run away, so they may live very well with a confident cat who doesn’t run but may chase another cat who runs away.
It is very important to observe your Italian Greyhound with your cat for some time in a variety of situations before ever considering leaving them unsupervised together.
Can Prey Drive be Trained Away?
Many owners are devastated to find that their adorable Italian Greyhound puppy has grown up into an adult dog with a very strong prey drive.
It is unlikely for your Italian Greyhound to think of a cat as prey if it has grown up with the cat, but it does sometimes happen that a dog will suddenly change his behavior towards the cat as the dog matures.
Italian Greyhounds are sensitive dogs who tend to be quite trainable.
While you may never be able to actually train away prey drive, you can teach a dog to control their impulses and how to behave properly.
That said, a dog who is expressing prey drive can never be trusted alone with an animal that it may consider to be prey.
Cats and Italian Greyhounds at Play
Italian Greyhounds are playful, energetic little dogs, and there’s a pretty good chance that they are going to find your cat irresistible.
Sometimes Italian Greyhounds and cats have wonderful play relationships together. They are often physically well matched and as long as both are friendly and respectful, they can play very well together.
However, not all cats return the Italian Greyhound’s impulse to play.
Unfortunately, Italian Greyhounds can sometimes pester cats to a degree that affects the cat’s quality of life.
Furthermore, if the cat decides to express his annoyance with an attack, he could hurt the Italian Greyhound’s delicate skin, protruding eyes, and fragile bones.
How to Raise an Italian Greyhound to Respect Cats
The best way to set your Italian Greyhound up for success with cats is to raise them with a cat and carefully supervise and manage their interactions.
Here are a few tips for raising a puppy with a cat in a way that will result in a positive relationship for both of them.
Don’t Allow the Puppy to Pester the Cat
Your puppy will probably want to play more than the cat will. Never allow your puppy to pester the cat when the cat wants to relax.
Always make sure that your cat has places to go where they can get away from the puppy completely. It is best that the cat has a room that he can access that the puppy cannot.
Another option that might work well is to provide your cat with a tall cat tree with multiple perches that he can use as a retreat when he needs a break.
Encourage and Guide Play
You can get involved in the play between your dog and cat and encourage them to do it properly.
Prevent them from getting too rough, and encourage them to use toys in order to channel some of the energy.
Your Italian Greyhound puppy may notice that the cat always gets the spot on the couch at the end of the day while they have to lie on the floor.
Make sure that you give equal affection to your dog and cat so that no jealousy develops between them. It is also important to avoid jealousy by keeping food and other resources separate.
How to Teach an Italian Greyhound to Like Cats
If your Italian Greyhound does not seem particularly fond of cats or if he experiences a high prey drive towards them, you can teach your dog to tolerate and even like cats with careful training.
That said, you may never be able to leave your Italian Greyhound alone with a cat.
- Find a reward that motivates your dog.
- Expose your dog to the cat at a distance or smell level high enough that he’ll notice but low enough that he is still interested in the reward.
- Gradually increase the exposure, being careful to stay below your dog’s threshold of reaction to the cat and make sure that he’s always motivated by the reward.
- Begin to reduce the reward as the dog willingly tolerates the cat’s presence.
- Reward only for positive interactions between dog and cat.
How to Introduce an Italian Greyhound to a Cat
If you are adopting an Italian Greyhound and have a cat or have an Italian Greyhound and are adopting a cat, the process of introduction will be similar.
- Allow both the dog and the cat to smell an area that the other animal has been in before they actually see each other.
- Keep your Italian Greyhound separated from the cat by using a baby gate that the cat will not jump over.
- Monitor interactions between the two, rewarding both cat and dog for positive reactions and watching for any signs of aggression.
- Gradually begin to allow dogs and cats to interact on a leash with supervision.
- Allow your Italian Greyhound to interact with the cat off-leash.
- Transition to a normal household without the baby gate but still prevent dogs and cats from being unsupervised together, at least until there is a strong social relationship between them.
How to Handle an Italian Greyhound Who Wants to Chase Cats
Some Italian Greyhounds are simply going to be determined to chase cats no matter how hard you work to train them.
You may be able to teach an Italian Greyhound to tolerate a particular cat or cats in a particular situation, but sometimes you cannot teach an Italian Greyhound not to try to chase cats that run from them on a walk.
Here are some tips for managing an Italian Greyhound who wants to chase cats on walks.
- Use a harness. An Italian Greyhound can do serious damage to his throat by lunging against a collar to try to chase a cat, so always use a comfortable, well-fitted harness that he won’t be able to get out of.
- Take control. You should never allow your Italian Greyhound to lunge and jump at the end of the lead trying to chase the cat. Pull the lead short, give your dog a command, and motivate him to obey with a highly desirable reward before walking on.
- Be aware of places cats may hide. Be very careful when walking your Italian Greyhound past areas where cats like to hide, such as under cars. Make sure that you keep the least tight enough that there is no risk of your dog being able to bite the cat.